Naliboki self-defence leaders possibly in a meeting with the Soviet officer (far left) prior to being massacred
|Location||Naliboki German-occupied Poland|
|Date||May 8, 1943|
|Weapons||Shootings by automatic and semi-automatic weapons|
|Deaths||Approx. 129 Polish nationals|
|Perpetrators||Soviet partisans |
The Naliboki massacre (Polish: zbrodnia w Nalibokach) was the mass killing of approximately 128 Poles including boys by Soviet partisans on May 8, 1943 in the village of Naliboki in German-occupied Poland (now Belarus). Before the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Naliboki belonged to Stołpce county of the Nowogródek Voivodeship in eastern part of the Second Polish Republic.
Following Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany, the Soviet resistance forces operated in the Naliboki Forest behind the German front lines of eastern Poland. Their NKVD leaders were sent in by Moscow headquarters in 1942 with full access to military hardware. The local members came from among the former Red Army soldiers of all ethnicities ("okrążeńcy"; Russian: окруженцы), and pro-Soviet Belarusians as well as Ukrainians. All daily provisions were acquired by the use of force, from settlements whose inhabitants were treated as enemies. The killings of peasants in order to inflict terror during acquisitions began in 1943 (in Kamień, Derewno, Borowikowszczyzna, Dziagwie, Rodziewszczyzna, etc). Naliboki was one of the settlements usually raided by them. Resulting from this, in August 1942 a self-defence unit was formed in the village.
In March 1943, Soviet partisans arranged for a meeting with the Polish self-defence leaders and lied about their true intentions. An agreement was signed with the Poles represented by Eugeniusz Klimowicz, against the so-called common robbers hiding in the forest. The NKVD did not intend to respect an agreement amounting to little more than a smokescreen and a surveillance technique.
On the night of May 8–9, 1943, the Soviet partisans raided Naliboki from the depths of the Naliboki Forest. A few of the Soviet attackers, including one political officer, were killed by the defenders. Polish men were pulled from their homes, and then shot individually or in small groups. Many farmhouses were set on fire. The mass looting followed. Also killed during the Soviet attack were three Polish women, several teenagers and a ten-year-old boy. The town's church was set on fire along with the public school, fire station, and the post office. The raid took two to three hours. The Soviet commandant delivered a report to NKVD about the killing of 250 people, the capture of weapons, round up of 100 cows and 78 horses, and the destruction of a German garrison. In reality the number of victims was lower (now estimated at 129); no Germans were present and none killed; only one Belarusian auxiliary policeman happened to be sleeping in the town during the night of the attack.
The investigation into the Naliboki massacre was launched by the Institute of National Remembrance on 20 March 2001 in Łódź, along with the investigation into the Koniuchy massacre committed in the same prewar Nowogródek Voivodeship of north-eastern Poland.
Following Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet partisans active in the area of eastern Poland were often joined by the Polish Jews trying to survive the escape from the Nazi ghettos. The controversy, as noted in a communique released by the IPN, concerns the participation of the Bielski partisans who might have supported the Soviets in the attack based on their ongoing relationship. Survivors of the Bielski group have denied this, particularly after the release of a film about them, entitled Defiance. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance has been investigating the massacre. Although the IPN has not reported its findings as of April 2009, Bogdan Musiał from the Institute has said that there was no evidence to support the allegation that the Bielski partisans were involved in the attack. Also in 2009, the scholarly debate about the Naliboki massacre was summarised by the special issue of the IPN Bulletin.
The Bielski partisans were stationed in Jasionowskie Forest near Wsielub, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Naliboki. The group used to requisition foodstuffs from nearby localities, including meat, bread and milk in quantities easy to carry back (so-called "bambioszki"; Russian: бамбиошки). They were close enough to the site of the massacre. The overtly anti-Polish attitudes of the Soviet units in general has been noted by the IPN scholars, along with more village massacres extending all the way to June 1944.
The routine attacks on Polish underground units by Soviet partisans could not have been circumvented by Jews in their ranks. The IPN historian Kazimierz Krajewski reported that in the forest around Lida some 25% of the partisans were Jewish, or as many as 1,200 people, even though only 162 of them were armed, because the Soviet handouts were few and far between. Notably, the Soviet NKVD persecuted the pro-German Belarusian populace at least as badly as the anti-Nazi Poles. Thousands of Belarusian collaborators were killed, including teachers, local administrators and members of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police, and dozens of Polish communities were destroyed. Resulting from this, at least on ten different occasions the Okręg Nowogródek (pl) of the Armia Krajowa attempted to negotiate with the Soviet partisans to stop the attacks on hapless villages. Those attempts were futile. In May 1943, the entire Polish delegation was murdered by the Soviets in the powiat of Szczuczyn and the pacifications continued. Apart from Naliboki, other massacres were committed in Koniuchy, Szczepki, Prowżały, Kamień, Niewoniańce, Izabelin, Kaczewo, Babińsk, and Ługomowicze, including murders around Dokudów and near the Narocz and Kromań lakes, as well as in Derewno.
In May 2003, prosecutor Anna Gałkiewicz from KŚZpNP, in charge of the investigations into the massacre in Naliboki and the Koniuchy massacre of 1944, reported that surviving eyewitnesses from Naliboki recognized Jews from the partisan group of Tuvia Bielski participating in the attack. Gałkiewicz named the Soviet brigades engaged in war crimes against civilians. They included the "Dzerzhinsky", "Bolshevik", and "Suvorov" brigades, as well as the "Stalin" brigade under Pavel Gulevich, which perpetrated the Naliboki massacre. Mieczyslaw Klimowicz, author of The Last Day of Naliboki (2009) was one of the 24 witnesses to the killings. As of May 2016, the regional division of IPN stated that investigations regarding war crimes in Nowogródek Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic were still ongoing. Nevertheless, the presence of several Jewish residents of Naliboki during the massacre has also been confirmed by their names.
- Anna Gałkiewicz, prokurator Oddziałowej KŚZpNP w Łodzi (14 May 2003). "Omówienie dotychczasowych ustaleń w śledztwach w sprawach o zbrodnie w Nalibokach i Koniuchach". Spotkanie Klubu Historycznego im. gen. Stefana Roweckiego - "Grota" w Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej. Warszawa: Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, KŚZpNP. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009.
- IPN (November 2013). "Śledztwo w sprawie zbrodni popełnionych przez partyzantów radzieckich na żołnierzach Armii Krajowej i ludności cywilnej na terenie powiatów Stołpce i Wołożyn woj. nowogródzkie (S 17/01/Zk)". Śledztwa w biegu - Zbrodnie komunistyczne. Instytut Pamieci Narodowej. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Kazimierz Krajewski. "Ginęli, ratując Żydów" [Dying while Rescuing Jews] (PDF). „Opor”? „Odwet”? Czy po prostu „polityka historyczna”? O Żydach w partyzantce sowieckiej na Kresach II RP. Warsaw: IPN Bulletin. NR 3 (98), March 2009: 99–120. ISSN 1641-9561.
- Geraldine Bereziuk Lowrey (March 5, 2015). "Book Review". The Last Day of Naliboki By Mieczyslaw Klimowicz (American Literary Press, 2009). The Am-Pol Eagle, Cheektowaga, NY.
At the time, Mieczyslaw Klimowicz, the son of Eugeniusz Klimowicz, was in his teens.
- IPN (1 March 2002), Investigation Reports on Koniuchy and Naliboki, Institute of National Memory, retrieved 19 January 2014
- IPN. "Komunikat dot. śledztwa w sprawie zbrodni popełnionych przez partyzantów sowieckich w latach 1942–1944 na terenie byłego województwa nowogródzkiego" (in Polish). Instytut Pamięci Narodowej. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?, Gazeta Wyborcza, 2008-06-16.
- The True Story of the Bielski Brothers (in Polish) Prawdziwa historia Bielskich, Gazeta Wyborcza, 2009-01-06
- Kamil Tchorek (2008-12-31). "Country split over whether Daniel Craig is film hero or villain". The Times. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- Bogdan Musiał (2009-01-31). "Bielski w puszczy niedomówień". Subscription payment required. Rzeczpospolita.